|You have just walked around what park employees know fondly as "park headquarters." This building serves as the park's main administrative center and, today, is the first building to greet visitors as they enter the area on Grinnell Drive. Approximately 45 people work inside this building and many have worked here for over twenty years. How would you like to report here for work every day?
William Logan, Glacier National Park's first superintendent, hired in 1910, focused his initial construction projects on the creation of a park administrative center and on a system of roads and trails. In late 1910, soon after the area was converted from a national forest to a national park, he established the park's first administrative center at Fish Creek Bay. This was near the current Fish Creek Campground, in a building abandoned by the U.S. Forest Service that is no longer standing. Between 1917 and 1923, the park secured funding for the development of a new administrative complex, to be located immediately adjacent to the park's west entrance (the area you will be walking through). Later on the tour, you will see the 1924 Rustic Style building that originally housed the park's administrative offices (today's West Lakes District Office, stop # 7 on the tour). Due to increased workloads and staffing, by 1950 it was clear that Glacier required a new, larger administrative building, and park and regional offices undertook an architectural study for a new headquarters building.
It was not just Glacier National Park that was in need of better buildings in the 1950s. In 1956, the National park Service entered a new era of funding and construction for the first time in nearly a generation, known as the Mission 66 Program. The NPS instituted the Mission 66 strategy for modernization to address nearly a generation of neglect of national parks resulting from massive shortages of funding, as well as staff and materials created by World War II and its long, lingering aftermath.
The National park Service intended the 10-year "Mission 66" programÂ to dramatically expand national park visitor services and facilities by 1966, in time for the agency's 50th anniversary. Conrad Wirth, the NPS Director at that time, conceived of and instituted the massive, ambitious plan. Wirth concentrated on the efficacy of a 10-year budget that would serve the long-term implementation of planned modernization, instead of the standard annual budget. By mid-July 1961, Glacier completed a negotiated contract for $14,000 with the architectural firm of Brinkman and Lenon of nearby Kalispell, Montana for the final design of the administration building you see today.
Construction began on April 2, 1962, and was completed June 23, 1963, for a final cost of $308,377. This modern-style building is asymmetrical in massing and combines a long, low one-story horizontal front (south) wing with a two story wing that projects to the rear. The resulting L-shaped structure encompasses 15,100 square feet in area. The building sits on a poured concrete foundation that holds a full basement
Our path heads east, along the bike path and through the woods to Mather Drive. This road was named after Stephen Mather, the first National Park Service Director, who used his own funds to purchase much of the land for the HQ area. As you walk through the woods on the way to our next stop, think about what this area was like for 10,000 years before it was designated a national forest and then a national park. When you get to Mather Drive, press 2# to learn about American Indian culture and Glacier National Park.